The Group of Seven nations has voiced support for member Japan’s hosting of this summer’s Olympics in Tokyo.
In a communique yesterday, the G7 said: “We reiterate our support for the holding of the Olympic and Paralympic Games Tokyo 2020 in a safe and secure manner as a symbol of global unity in overcoming Covid-19.”
The presidents and prime ministers of the group – comprised of Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the UK and the US – met in the UK over the weekend.
After the meeting, Japanese prime minister Yoshihide Suga said he was ‘heartened’ by the support from his allies. “I won very strong support from all the leaders,” he said. “As the prime minister of the host country, I was very heartened by such support.”
A spokesperson for US president Joe Biden, who met Suga during the summit, said: “President Biden affirmed his support for the Tokyo Olympic Games moving forward with all public health measures necessary to protect athletes, staff and spectators…
“President Biden expressed pride in the US athletes who have trained for the Tokyo Games and will be competing in the best traditions of the Olympic spirit.”
A spokesperson for British prime minister Boris Johnson, who also met Suga, said: “The prime minister expressed his support for the Tokyo Olympics, and welcomed Japanese efforts to ensure the Games can take place safely.”
Japan is pressing ahead with hosting the Games amid heavy scrutiny due to the pandemic situation in the country. Opinion polls have consistently suggested that Japanese public support for the Games has faded. Japanese medical experts have spoken out against the Games going ahead. The organisers have had to fend off a deluge of other negative reports, among the latest being that some sponsors have privately called for a second postponement.
The organisers have stuck to their message that the Games can be carried out safely and that adequate measures will be in place to ensure there is no undue Covid-19 threat to the Japanese public or participants.
John Coates, head of the IOC’s coordination commission for the Tokyo Games, said last week: “I’m very, very confident in the work undertaken by our Japanese hosts…
“We’ve also got the experience since last November of some 240 international sporting events taking place around the world involving 50-60 000 athletes. It’s on that basis that I’m confident.”
Coates also said a decision on whether spectators would be allowed at the Games would be announced by the Japanese government at the end of this month.
Reuters reported that Coates said: “I think the decision will be put off until a decision on the whole of sport at the end of the month…The government will make a decision on crowds and I think it will vary from venue to venue, it won’t be a fixed percentage for all.”
Japanese Olympic Committee board member Kaori Yamaguchi said last week that the Games should be held without spectators. The Olympic judo medallist said government messaging to stay at home conflicted with the possibility of spectators going to the games.
Tokyo Olympics organisers announced on Friday that 18 000 workers at the Games will be vaccinated against Covid-19, in a programme starting this week. The vaccinated workers will be those who interact regularly with athletes, including referees, Olympic village staff, airport staff, anti-doping officials and Olympic committee officials.
Tokyo and other parts of Japan are currently under ‘state of emergency’ measures until June 20 to tackle a recent rise in Covid-19 cases. Since the measures were introduced last month, daily cases in the country have dropped from over 6 000 to under 2 000. – Sports Business